Category Archives: Unethical Websites

Evil On The Internet…Unethical Website Of The Month: 4Chan

It's Ebola Chan! Isn't she hilarious?

It’s Ebola Chan! Isn’t she hilarious?

In Ethics Alarms’ continuing effort to bring to you depressing news of awful things you may never otherwise hear about if you are normal, I bring you 4Chan. Maybe you are as late to this sick party as I am.

I was vaguely aware that the site, which essentially hosts anonymous shock posts and hoaxes—meaning that it is a magnet for unethical conduct and the people who think its cool—was behind the initial hacking and posting of those nude celebrity photos earlier this month. It is much worse than that, however. Take this, for example, reported by The Daily Dot…

The absolutely terrible #cutforbieber hashtag became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter on Monday, an unfortunate truth that owes its existence to the perpetually scheming deviants on 4chan.

Long known for their affinity for disturbing, often sexually graphic or violent content, 4chan users schemed the hashtag this morning, when an anonymous poster wrote on notorious Web forum /b/ that community members should “start a cut yourself for bieber campaign.”

“Tweet a bunch of pics of people cutting themselves and claim we did it because bieber was smoking weed,” he or she wrote. “See if we can get some little girls to cut themselves.”

 

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Health and Medicine, Humor and Satire, Race, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites

Unethical Website of the Month: Kio’s Asian Stir, Newport, Rhode Island

kios-asian-stir-I hate to pick on a small Chinese restaurant, but this kind of casual incompetence in an electronic age is ridiculous. Besides, I’m tired, hungry, and not in the mood to be tolerant.

I’m in Newport, you see, where I have  presented three-hour legal ethics seminars to two large and responsive groups of lawyers, courtesy of AON and the Rhode Island bar. My wife was kind enough to accompany me, and thus instead of returning from a seminar to a lonely hotel room and endless hours surfing cable TV, I am actually enjoying my surroundings for a change, driving around, checking out galleries, walking along the shore. The only persistent problem is meals. By the time I finish the seminar, talk with participants, get back to our bed-and-breakfast in scenic Newport and walk Rugby (he’s here too), it’s invariably 2:30 0r later; by the time we drive to Iggy’s or Flo’s (double yum) for clams, it’s 4:00, meaning that dinner is up against the hard, generally 9 PM deadline most kitchens observe around here, and the fact that I’m as fried as the clams we ate and barely able to move. This makes carry-out mandatory, but time is tight.

By this time we’re sick of pizza and sandwiches, so after perusing the options, and there goes another 20 minutes, we arrive at the perfect solution: the well-regarded Asian restaurant Kio’s, which is close by (everything is close-by; this is Rhode Island), delivers, and, it announces on it’s website, I can order on-line! See…

We are adding Online service to Kio’s Chinese Cuisine in Newport, RI. You can now online order your favorite chinese dishes such as Chicken Chow Mein, Shrimp with Cashew Nuts and Sauteed Mixed Vegetables. Order online is easy and fun. We provide fast Delivery too (minimum order $10). Order Now!

For the special experience of ordering online at Kio’s, try the link. There’s the tantalizing menu, but oddly, clicking on the various options accomplishes nothing. You will search in vain for a form or anything else that suggests “on-line order,” much less “easy and fun” on-line order. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet, Unethical Websites

Unethical Website Of The Month: OKCupid…The First Corporate Fick!

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The ignominy of mere Ethics Dunce status is too good for OKCupid CEO Christian Rudder and his online dating service, and Unethical Website of the Month doesn’t do it justice either. The online dating website has revealed itself as an ethics outlaw, and a smug one. It is lying to its customers,  toying with the lives of vulnerable people who trust it, and doesn’t see anything wrong with its conduct.

That qualifies OKCupid as a Corporate Fick, the first ever so-identified here. As stated in the blog glossary of terms and concepts, a fick is someone who openly and blatantly violates social norms of responsibility, honesty or fairness without shame or remorse. That description fits OKCupid to a fare-thee-well.

In case you missed the story, the website revealed—proudly, in fact—that it intentional set up users with bad dates, or mismatched by its own compatibility formulas, to see how people would behave. The uproar over Facebook’s undisclosed manipulation of users’ moods prompted the disclosure.Facebook’s experiment violated research ethics standards, and the company was misrepresenting both law and ethics when it claimed that they had Facebook user’s consent to use them as cyber lab rats. That was bad. This is infinitely worse. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Love, Marketing and Advertising, Research and Scholarship, Romance and Relationships, Science & Technology, The Internet, Unethical Websites

Unethical Website Of The Month, Sort of: Newsball

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I had never heard of Newsball until I read a sneering account of Cole Baritomo’s “news blog” in the Daily Beast, titled “He Bullies Kids and Calls It News,” by DB reporter Brandy Zadrozny. She caught me at a bad time, because I was still gagging from reading an outrageous, incompetent, slanted and useless Daily Beast account of the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling striking down a Massachusetts law establishing anti-protest “buffer zones” around abortion clinics as a First Amendment violation. Nobody reading this mess could possibly figure out what the ruling was about, what it was, and the distinctions it drew. There were no quotes from the opinion, no discussion of the important disagreements among the justices, not even a clear description of what a buffer zone is, or what the law that was struck down said. The reporter, however, quoted Plannned Parenthood three times—yes, they are certainly the most unbiased analysts of this issue. Then the screed masquerading as news reporting ended with this: Continue reading

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Filed under Journalism & Media, Professions, Rights, Unethical Websites

Unethical Website of the Month: Hoax Site “The News Nerd”

Sorry, Aretha. You are just an innocent pawn in a slimy website's quest for links.

Sorry, Aretha. You are just an innocent pawn in a slimy website’s quest for links.

[Update (Aug. 1, 2014): The News Nerd web polluters are doubtlessly puffing up their pigeon breasts with pride because yet another of their fake, unfunny "satires" fooled journalists and bloggers. This one was about a Facebook "fire challenge" that caused teens to set themselves on fire. Hilarious!]

Bonus ethics points are due Mediaite writer Luke O’Neill, who placed the word ‘satire’ in scare quotes while describing the website called “The News Nerd,” which he grouped with, in his words, “The National Report (behind this recent viral hoax about Bill Murray stopping a bank robbery), The Daily Currant, and the rest of the plague of woefully unfunny bottom-feeders who’ve clogged up our newsfeeds of late.” The site in question has been sued by pop icon Aretha Franklin, who argues that its unfunny fake story about her  getting into a fistfight with fellow diva Patti LaBelle is defamatory.  Aretha is going to lose, of course,* and worse, she is bringing more attention, traffic and income to the despicable website, which I will not link to and assist its sordid little game.

Getting links and traffic is the whole point of such sites: write and publish a plausible but strange made-up news story that enough news aggregation sites and bloggers believe, hope the story goes viral, and reap the monetary rewards of notoriety and ethical misconduct. “The News Nerd” had one of its “successes” recently by falsely reporting that George Zimmerman was peddling a new painting, this one of Trayvon Martin. It is a vile, if not especially new, creature on the web, one that makes the internet even less reliable and trustworthy than it was. Such sites’ victims are the trusting, hurried and inattentive. They masquerade as satire sites, but are intentionally poor ones. Their stories are not clever or sufficiently well-made to signal their allegedly humorous nature, and the disclaimers are hidden, perhaps a click away, or at the bottom of a screen, where the site-owners know many readers will never look. Continue reading

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Filed under Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, The Internet, Unethical Websites

An Unethical Website, Golden Rule Malpractice And The Worst Anti-Bullying Program Ever

 Izzy

bully2buddy logo

The Golden Rule is a valuable ethics tool. No question about it. Its best feature is that it compels an ethical point of view, causing us to think about the impact of one’s conduct on others. This simple shift of perspective—that’s the other virtue of the Golden Rule: it’s simple; a child can understand it—-distances us from the powerful ethics alarms-muffling effects of non-ethical considerations, which are primarily our subjective wants and needs, and forces us to look past them to more ethical objectives.

The Golden Rule is not, however, a panacea, or even the most useful ethical system. It doesn’t work in complex systems , or when multiple inter-related interests are involved, or when chaos looms. You can’t run a successful business, organization or nation using only the Golden Rule; you can’t have a coherent legal system, or the rule of law, or a banking system. Yet there are a lot of people, many of them with advanced degrees, best-selling books and millions of followers, who continue to practice Golden Rule malpractice and preach that it will solve all society’s ills, despite the fact that the most cursory examination of history and human nature makes it blindingly clear that much as we would wish it otherwise, this just isn’t true. Some of these people are well-meaning, good-hearted chumps. Some are insane. Many are fanatics. Some of them are con-artists. All of them are dangerous.

The latter was illustrated when the fifth-graders in Lincoln, Nebraska’s Zeman Elementary School received flyers on how to deal with bullying. (To get the side issues this blog deals with periodically out of the way at the outset, the incompetent and naive advice the flyer contained is one of an endless number of examples of how the education establishment is inadequately trained, staffed and regulated to be trusted with the welfare of young children, and how any parent who blithely entrusts their offspring to public schools without monitoring them closely is irresponsible, because teachers and school administrators cannot be trusted to exercise good judgment.) The flyer contained none “rules” for bullied children to apply after and during bullying episodes. The flyer was disavowed after the Lincoln, Nebraska school system’s Facebook page melted from the abuse poured on it by shocked and disgusted parents, and so far, at least, nobody has transcribed all of what is barely readable on this photo of it, and I don’t see or type well enough to do it myself: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Education, Research and Scholarship, Unethical Websites

Unethical Website of the Month: “I Love Dogs”

This isn't the puppy in the post, but I've been looking for an excuse use this photo...

This isn’t the puppy in the post, but I’ve been looking for an excuse use this photo…

I love dogs too, but encouraging people to beat alleged animal abusers to the verge of death just doesn’t seem right to me. I’m funny that way.

Indeed, I wonder about the values and mental stability of those who think this is a rational and ethical response to the perpetrator of any kind of crime, not just animal abuse.

“I Love Dogs” has sent into the web a virtual “Wanted Poster” with a photo of a real human being, ostensibly a canine abuser who “nearly beat this pup”—also pictured—“to death.” The poster suggests that readers should share the poster if they “believe that he deserves the same.”

Sure enough, many do. The post has gleaned many thousands of likes, about 5000 shares, and a wave of comments like those that follow here. I’ve included the names of the posters, who obviously didn’t think their comments were anything to be ashamed of. I wish I could include the thousands more like them, but there is too much anonymity in crowds. Posting the commenters’ names that appear below is a public service. I suggest avoiding them. Also proofreading their work, as they all appear to have dropped out of the third grade…

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Filed under Animals, Character, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites